The brand image that Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, ‘MSD’ to his legion of fans, conjures up is that of a go getting, high-on-testeterone individual. Someone who would be better suited promoting a men’s clothing or two-wheeler rather than launch his own perfume.
The unlikely combination happened though last month when Dhoni quietly flew in with his wife Sakshi to launch his signature perfume ‘7 by MS Dhoni’ at a jazzy ceremony at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. While only time will tell if the product can find its feet in a market saturated with international brands, the dashing cricketer has for now joined an exclusive club of sports personalities including Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova with their own perfume line.
The ‘7 by MS Dhoni’ will have six men’s products (both deodorants and eau de toilette) to start with, at an “affordable” range, but are already looking to expand the product base. “This is just the beginning but eventually, it will also include EDT for women and grooming products like after shaves, body lotions, shower gel, soaps and gift sets autographed by Dhoni himself,” said Alwyn Stephen, President & CEO of Beauty Contact, a Dubai-based company specialising in celebrity perfumes and beauty products who have developed the range.
It will be quite an uncharted territory for Dhoni the entrepreneur, who has so far made forays into fitness as well as franchise of a superbike team, areas that are more suited to his personality. ‘Mahi,’ as he called by his family and friends, also commands the highest price tag among sportspersons with nearly 20 brands under his belt for endorsement and has been voted the richest cricketer by Forbes for the fourth year running.
Asked what interested him in the business of perfume, a candid Dhoni told the audience at the launch: “As someone who has to travel a lot, we end up spending a lot of time in the Duty Free Shops of different airports around the world and if there is one thing that I always ended up buying was a bottle of perfume. This project gave me an opportunity to share my personal preferences regarding perfume with the consumers.”
The product, developed in partnership with Rhiti Sports Management, brand managers for Dhoni, will be distributed in the Middle East by Silex General Trading. While the deodorants are already available in the UAE, the EDTs are expected to arrive by March.
How challenging will it be to position the brand in a truly international market as this? Chandra Mouli, CEO of Silex Trading is unfazed. “We are targeting the vast sub-continent population in this country in the age group of 16-45 years. The six perfumes have been kept at an extremely affordable range, starting from as low as Dh12 for a deodorant to Dh45 for the EDT. We are confident that 7 by MS Dhoni will become one of the top three brands in this category within a year’s time.”
The branding of the six perfumes are apparently based on six facets of the cricketer’s personality and have been named Action, Intense, Power, Connect, Cool and Energy.
“A major difference between the products that I have endorsed so far and this one is that as a brand ambassador, you only promote something. Here, I have been involved with developing the product, giving my inputs whenever I have had the time in last 15 months or so… with Sakshi also chipping in with her suggestions,” Dhoni said.